The Proportions of the Ark of the Covenant

14 04 2011

And how it can be a principle of design of buildings. Most of my reading of scripture comes through the liturgy – that is the readings from both the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. I do my best to do some lectio divina each day (reading Shawn Tribe’s wonderful piece on the ‘Four Pillars’ of the new liturgical movement has given a recent boost to this effort) and even for this I draw on the liturgy, tending to use the readings from Mass for that day. What is amazing is how often the scripture or the commentary by the Church Fathers speaks to me about something that is on my mind. Read the rest of this entry »


The Quincunx – a Geometric Representation of Christ in Majesty

16 03 2011

One of my hopes for the cultural renewal is the revival of a Christian form of geometric patterned art. With this in mind I have done my best to study past work, and try to discern the principles that underlie its creation. I wrote about resources that help in this respect in a previous article, here.

If tasked with the design of an ornate sanctuary floor now, for example, how might one go about it? Read the rest of this entry »

Summary of the Kenrick Seminary talks on art

28 12 2010

By Mark Scott Abeln on his Rome of the West blog For any who are wondering whether or not it’s worth the effort to watch them, here is a summary of the four talks at the Kenrick-Glennon seminary by Mark Scott Abeln. His blog is worth a look. He is a skilled photographer and he has insights how the principles I have been articulating in art and architecture apply in the art of photographer. The ‘Rome of the West’ for those of you, like me, who didn’t know is his home town of St Louis. Photograph: the Cathedral Basilica of  St Louis, in St Louis, Missouri.

Four talks on Sacred Art at Kenrick Seminary, St Louis

22 12 2010

This autumn I was invited to address the seminarians at the Kenrick Seminary in St Louis. I gave four lectures on sacred art and liturgy. Here are four podcasts, posted on the seminary website. They are enhanced –  you hear my voice and see the slides I am describing.

Harmony and Proportion – linking culture to the cult

Iconographic art

Baroque art

Gothic art

Read the rest of this entry »

How Golden is the Golden Section?

23 07 2010

Whenever I talk about proportion and harmony in art and architecture, many assume that I am referring to the proportion known as the Golden Section (often indicated by the Greek letter Φ). When I started to investigate these things, I assumed that the Golden Section was important too. However, to my surprise, my investigations lead me to believe that although it was known to past societies and cultures, it was not as important as we assume today. In fact, the idea that it was used by the ancient Greeks, the medievals or masters of the High Renaissance is, as far as I can work out, largely a myth. I have described before, herehere and here, how important symbolic number, proportion and harmony (expressed numerically or geometrically) was for artists and architects in the Christian tradition and how they were seen as a manifestation of the cosmic liturgy. But it seems that the Golden Section, Φ, isn’t part of that tradition. Read the rest of this entry »

What makes Oxford University Great?

24 06 2010

Beauty, Grace and Superabundance in Education
When I was studying in painting and drawing in Florence I started to wonder why we haven’t yet seen a modern Master. We all knew that we weren’t up to the standards of the past great Masters, such as Velazquez or Reni. Judge for yourself, I have attached photos of my own work. I must admit I am quite pleased with them and it is an amazing improvement in only one year of training and as such a tribute to the quality of the teaching in the school. But I know I’m no Velazquez. Read the rest of this entry »

Using Boethian Proportion for Better Web Design

7 06 2010

The Via Pulchritudinis or Way of Beauty has application in anything that can be designed and one expert website designer, Adam Solove,  has started to incorporate these traditional ideas into what he does. He has written about the project here. He says that the results are better and simpler to implement than the design methods he was shown as a student: something called a Swiss grid; or the Golden Mean, which is the ratio observed in nature so often.

Adam has replaced this with one of the Boethian series referred to in my article on Harmony and Proportion, called the Fourth of Four. As he points Read the rest of this entry »